Cancer Research UK on Google+ Cancer Research UK on Facebook Cancer Research UK on Twitter

Radiotherapy for stomach cancer

Men and woman discussing stomach cancer

This page tells you about radiotherapy for stomach cancer. There is information on

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Radiotherapy for stomach cancer

Radiotherapy uses high energy waves to kill cancer cells. Doctors don't usually use radiotherapy for stomach cancer. But you may have it for symptoms of an advanced cancer. Radiotherapy may shrink a large cancer and relieve pain. It is also useful for stopping bleeding from an advanced cancer. Trials are looking at combining radiotherapy with chemotherapy to help stop stomach cancer coming back after surgery.

You have radiotherapy at the hospital radiotherapy department. You may have one treatment a day for a few days, or several treatments with a few days break between each. The actual treatment only lasts a couple of minutes.

Side effects

The side effects of radiotherapy depend on which part of the body is being treated. The side effects of treatment to the stomach are tiredness, feeling or being sick, diarrhoea, reddening of the skin in the treatment area and loss of body hair in the treatment area. You may not have many side effects from your treatment if you are having it for advanced stomach cancer.

You can find more information in the radiotherapy section.
 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the treating stomach cancer section.

 

 

What radiotherapy is

Radiotherapy uses high energy waves to cure cancer. Radiotherapy is not usually used for stomach cancer, although trials are looking at combining radiotherapy with chemotherapy to help stop the cancer from coming back after surgery. You are more likely to have radiotherapy to shrink an advanced cancer. This may relieve pressure, which has been causing pain. Radiotherapy is also very useful for stopping bleeding from an advanced cancer.

 

Planning your treatment

Radiotherapy has to be carefully planned. At your first visit you lie under a large specialised CT scanning machine.

Patient under a radiotherapy simulator X-ray machine

The treatment team uses the machine to work out where to give your treatment to kill the most cancer cells and miss as much healthy body tissue as possible. The radiographer will make a pinprick tattoo on your skin. They use this to line up the radiotherapy machine every day when you have your treatment. Sometimes more marks are made with felt pen. Try not to wash them off. If they fade, your radiographer can draw them in again.

 

Having treatment

You have radiotherapy in the hospital radiotherapy department. You may have one treatment a day for a few days or a few treatments with a few days break between each.

Patient having radiotherapy

The actual treatment only takes a few minutes. The radiographer will help to position you on the couch and make sure you are comfortable. You will be left alone for the minute or two the machine is switched on. But the staff will be able to hear and see you through an intercom, so you can call if you need them. The treatment doesn't hurt. You won't be able to feel it at all. You must lie very still for the few minutes it takes to treat you.

Having external radiotherapy to your stomach does not make you radioactive. It is perfectly safe to be with other people, including children, throughout your treatment course.

 

Side effects

The side effects of radiotherapy depend on which part of the body is being treated. The main side effects of radiotherapy to the stomach are

You may not have many side effects from your treatment if you are having it for advanced stomach cancer. You can take an anti sickness drug before each treatment if it makes you feel sick. Ask your doctor if you need these. You are having the treatment to make you feel better. So it is important that the treatment itself does not make you feel worse.

Radiotherapy can cause tiredness for many people. The tiredness wears off over the few weeks following your treatment. There is detailed information about general radiotherapy side effects in the radiotherapy section.

 

More information about radiotherapy

The radiotherapy section tells you more about this type of treatment including

Some of the general cancer support organisations can give you information about radiotherapy and you can also find helpful books and leaflets on our cancer and treatment reading list.

Rate this page:
Submit rating

 

Rated 5 out of 5 based on 5 votes
Rate this page
Rate this page for no comments box
Please enter feedback to continue submitting
Send feedback
Question about cancer? Contact our information nurse team

No Error

Updated: 13 February 2014